Strike action is growing ever closer in the UK continental shelf (UKCS), as the UK’s biggest workers union, Unite, informs offshore employers that it is balloting its members for action.
The dispute stems from a disagreement on pay, after member employers of the Catering Offshore Trade Association (COTA), have allegedly refused workers a previously agreed pay deal.
Unite has said that members of COTA, including major offshore services companies Sodexo, Aramark and Compass, refused to honour the second year of a previously agreed two year pay deal. Unite said that the agreement amounts to a 1.3% increase on current wages.
The union stated that they have now given COTA and its members the statutory seven day notice for the ballot start. Further, Unite said that the ballot would run for six weeks.
Unite industrial officer John Boland said: “The point blank refusal of the COTA employers to honour our pay agreement has left us with no choice but to proceed to a formal industrial action ballot.
“Even against the backdrop of oil price volatility and industry pressure, COTA employers’ profits run into billions and it is unacceptable that our agreement – negotiated in good faith – is now being ignored.
“We are giving our members a clear recommendation to vote ‘yes’ for action short of a strike and ‘yes’ for strike action in order to secure the strongest possible mandate to defend their terms and conditions against the industry’s imposition.
“Our members keep the UK offshore industry fed and watered 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year but we have to take a stand now in order to prevent a damaging race to the bottom.”
Knock On Effect
If strike action does go ahead, it will be the first time in the UK offshore sector for a generation. North sea operators have yet to comment on their contingency plans for catering, however it is likely that offshore platforms would have to reduce workforces down to a skeleton crew, made up only of essential production personnel.